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‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ cast on the demanding Larry David to give them contours




'Curb Your Enthusiasm' cast on the demanding Larry David to give them contours

When “Curb Your Enthusiasm” aired on HBO in 2000, creator/star Larry David had a very specific rule: He didn’t let the show’s cast read the episodic outlines.

“I didn’t even see a sketch for the first three seasons,” says “Curb” star Cheryl Hines Variety‘s Awards Circuit podcast. “I was not allowed to. And yeah, and so that was the joke when I got to hair and makeup. I’d say, ‘Can someone tell me what this show is about?’ And they would say no. And then I finally got Larry to let me read a draft. I promised Larry that I would never think ahead to what I was going to say.

David wanted them to think on their feet as they improvised dialogue in scenes – and that became an early hallmark of why the show felt so unique.

And stars like Hines, Susie Essman and Jeff Garlin joined in. But in the end, they wanted more prep time – and finally convinced David to let them take a look. Well, not all.

“I literally, without exaggeration, go to the set, put on whatever my wardrobe is, walk to the set and I walk upstairs [executive producer] Jeff Schaffer. And I say, ‘What do I do?’” Garlin says. “And he will tell me what the scene is about and what my responsibilities are in the scene. And that keeps it fresh for me. I only know what I’m going to do when I step on set.”

Essman, on the other hand, is the exact opposite: “I want to know exactly what we’re doing the next day,” she says. “So I can have it in my head. And know what the scene needs… when you read the outlines you are always shocked. “Oh, I think I’m going to have to have vaginal rejuvenation surgery this season.” We get them and it’s like, ‘Okay, I think I’ll do this this season!’

In this episode of the award-winning Variety Awards Circuit Podcast, we talk to “Curb Your Enthusiasm” stars Jeff Garlin, Susie Essman, JB Smoove and Cheryl Hines about the end of the historic HBO series and their lasting memories of their time with Larry David .

Also in this episode, the Round Table is back and ready to set the tone for the Emmy season. Listen below!

The foursome will probably be asked until the end of time if there will ever be a ‘Curb’ reunion. In the episode we point out that ‘Seinfeld’ had a reunion on ‘Curb’, so maybe on a future David or Schaffer show they could revisit a show-within-a-show ‘Curb’.

But they all agree, at least for now, that this really is the end. “I have no doubt that this is the end,” Garlin said. “If we made more episodes, I would love to do that. When we make a film, I have no desire. This is perfect for a short form. And Larry David is a genius at whatever he wants to do.

The group noted that “Curb” was hit hard by the loss of Bob Einstein, who had played Marty Funkhouser, and more recently by the death of Richard Lewis — who appears throughout the final season.

“Luckily Richard was able to perform this season, which was questionable,” Essman said. “The work he did is incredible. And what was so moving about his work this season, as you could see, the comedic mind worked beautifully. But his body betrayed him. He couldn’t get it out in the same way and in the same rhythm as before. It was hard to watch and beautiful to watch. I mean, he wasn’t doing well, you could clearly tell he wasn’t doing well. But he wasn’t dying. So his death was a shock to all of us.”

Hines noted that it was important to David that Lewis was present this season. “He worked very hard to make sure Richard had housing,” she said.

As for Einstein’s passing in 2019, Garlin said it took a toll on David. “When Bob died and didn’t come back, it affected everything,” he said. “Think of our lunches where Larry would just leave the table. And you knew why. We were talking about Bob when he just left the table. He was so upset and angry. He was actually angry. Same with Richard, he had a quote about Richard being so mad at him.

Among other highlights:

• Essman laughs at the way this season of “Curb” upended Bruce Springsteen’s legacy. “The poor man has had a brilliant career for fifty years, whatever it is. And he was at the Forum a few weeks ago, and people are holding up posters that say “floor fucker.” He’s with us one day and he’s being chased.’

• Garlin’s favorite idea for “Curb” might be Larry’s “Latte Larry” store. “It’s the greatest fantasy premise I’ve ever seen in my life, because there isn’t one person who wishes he could do it. And that’s the grudge shop. You are treated like shit. And you decide to live next door with the exact same stuff every week, because if you go into a store and you’re treated badly, very often no one cares, or they treat you badly. You think, “I wish I could get you or have this!”

• Essman says the public doesn’t realize what a great guy David really is. “He’s generally not much of a character in the way he treats people because he’s much more sensitive,” she says. “He couldn’t be the leader of this group if he treated people the way his character treats them.”

• As Susie Greene, Essman refused to call Garlin’s character a “fat bastard” in the season finale, even though the character called her husband that for years. “Larry said, ‘Just call him a fat son of a bitch, just for old time’ sake.” And instead I just said, “Shut up, you fat bastard!” Because I didn’t want to fuck fat again. It was played out. That’s why I found another way to say it.”

• David recently told a PaleyFest audience that he hates the term “cringe comedy.” Essman agrees. “I don’t think it’s sad. Cringe is not funny.”

• Smoove has a wall full of hats — and they all have different personalities. “Some are arrogant, others are conceited. Some are overbearing, they all have something. Some are needy,” he says. “The needy hat knows he’s my favorite hat. What is a conceited man? Is the hat that fits perfectly in the wind. It just stays there because it fits too well.”

Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast, produced by Michael Schneider, is your one-stop listening place for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week, “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get podcasts. New episodes are posted weekly.